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12.11.2004 Regional News

Warring parties in Cote d'Ivoire urged to protect children

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Accra, Nov. 12, GNA - The United Nations Agency for Children (UNICEF), on Friday called on parties to the conflict in Cote d'Ivoire to take every action necessary to ensure that public services such as health centres and schools continue to function properly. UNICEF also called on the feuding factions to ensure that the rights of children and women are fully respected.

A statement by the agency in Accra on Friday noted that water and electricity supplies had been interrupted and this has heightened the risk of water-borne diseases spreading across the country. "If this insecurity continues, we risk losing two years of steady progress made by the national reconciliation government, most importantly in terms of getting schools and health care services open again in the north."

UNICEF said it had provided emergency medical supplies and drugs for some 68 health centres in and around Bouake, Cote d'Ivoire's second largest city, as an initial humanitarian response to the emergency that was unfolding.

The organisation said, in an effort to save precious doses of routine vaccines stored in Bouake, fuel has been provided to maintain "their cold storage for another three to five days."

"Throughout the week, schools have been closed in Abidjan and other parts of the country. Schools provide a protective environment and a sense of normalcy for children and their communities during times of crises."

It therefore, appealed to the parties involved to ensure the provision of basic services and humanitarian access throughout the country.

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